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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Senser (Theatre Works) - 75 minutes

Imagine what a dark place a world without music would be.

That is the starting point for this bold, brassy and zany work, the brainchild of writer Brittanie Shipway, with original music from Jess Newman and Shipway.

She straddles Nazi-era cabaret to a totalitarian regime with harsh dictates in 2043.

Senser hits the right note figuratively and literally from the get go when a tall, lanky, muscular figure in a full length, leaf green dress, black heels and blonde wig adorned with silver angel wings sings up a storm.

The cross dresser talks about the Weimar underground, which is all about sex, liberty and music.

Next, we are propelled to the not-too-distant future, where state rule commands a strict code of conduct.

One citizen, whose real name is Ava, but is addressed merely by her number – 1104 – arrives a few minutes late for a compulsory meeting.

When she tries to argue the point, she is sent for disciplinary action by a guardian.

Photos by Daniel Rabin

It’s her third time in trouble that week.

Clearly, the cognitive behavioural therapy being prescribed isn’t working and she freely admits she is off her meds because they numb her.

Given a pill and sent on her way, it’s already dark and she fears being caught out after curfew by the authorities.

But that is when she discovers a secret about her interrogator.

She herself is harbouring a truth that she has to keep close to her chest as this is a society in which all music has been banned.

There is no talk of her mother and her father allegedly abandoned her and escaped this repressive regime, leaving her on her own.

Before he did, he started composing a song for Ava.

She now conjures up visions of a musical instructor that bears a striking resemblance to the cabaret singer to whom we were first introduced.

Senser showcases two mighty gifted performers – Adam Noviello who plays both the cabaret artist and Ava’s interrogator, and Luisa Scrofani as Ava.

There is a surety about their portrayals.

Noviello mesmerises from the get-go, coming across as dynamic and dangerous, teasing and reproaching as the mood requires.

Scrofani channels Ava’s inner voice with aplomb, becoming a golden voiced conscientious objector. There is joy and delight when she breaks her shackles.

The creativity in set and costume design helps us on the journey. The production designer is Grace Deacon.

Senser is a captivating show of spirit and resistance against a straightjacketed existence, astutely directed and choreographed by Miranda Middleton.

It is playing at Theatre Works until 17th September, 2022.


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